TSA Intercepts 1,503 Firearms at Airport Checkpoints in First Quarter of 2024

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
April 13, 2024US News
TSA Intercepts 1,503 Firearms at Airport Checkpoints in First Quarter of 2024
A television displays a "no guns" sign at the Transportation Security Administration security area at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta on Jan. 25, 2023. (Brynn Anderson/AP Photo)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) intercepted 1,503 firearms at airport security checkpoints during the first quarter of 2024, a number the federal agency said is comparable to last year’s.

The total represents an average of 16.5 firearms per day detected at TSA checkpoints during the first three months of the year. During the same time period in 2023, TSA officers intercepted 1,508 firearms at airport security checkpoints, an average of 16.8 catches per day.

During both periods, more than 93 percent of firearms were loaded, the TSA said in a press release.

While the number of catches stayed roughly the same, the rate of passengers with firearms decreased from 7.9 to 7.3 firearms per one million passengers, owing to a larger number of passengers screened at TSA security checkpoints. In the first quarter of 2023, the TSA screened some 191 million people, compared to 206 million this year.

“While it is certainly promising that the rate of passengers bringing firearms to the checkpoint has decreased, one firearm at the checkpoint is too many,” TSA administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.

Mr. Pekoske urged people to follow the legal requirements when traveling with firearms.

“Traveling with a firearm is allowed and it must be packed properly as checked baggage and declared to the airline at the ticket counter,” Mr. Pekoske stated.

TSA guidelines demand that firearms be unloaded and kept in a locked, hard-sided container that cannot be taken as carry-on baggage, and ammunition must be securely boxed or kept separately in the same container as the firearm.

NTD Photo
Passengers at O’Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint in Chicago, Ill., on May 16, 2016. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Passengers must declare their firearms and ammunition to the airline when checking their bags at the ticket counter. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted.

“Firearms are prohibited at security checkpoints, in the secure area of an airport and in the passenger cabin of an aircraft, even if a passenger has a concealed carry permit or is in a constitutional carry jurisdiction,” the TSA said.

The TSA does not confiscate or seize firearms. If a passenger brings a firearm at and beyond TSA checkpoints when boarding, the TSA will contact local law enforcement, who will unload and take possession of the firearm. Depending on local laws and circumstances, the passenger may be arrested or cited and federally prosecuted.

In addition, the TSA is authorized to issue civil fines of up to $14,950 per loaded firearm and up to $5,370 per unloaded firearm. Undeclared firearms found in checked baggage have a maximum fine of $2,990.

“We always recommend passengers start with a clean bag when they pack to ensure no firearms, weapons, or other prohibited items are present,” Mr. Pekoske said.

“Every time we discover a firearm at the checkpoint, the security screening process is slowed down for all.”

The TSA was created in 2001 as a response to the September 11 attacks to improve airport security. Initially it was part of the Department of Transportation, but was moved to the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

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